Parallel Polyadenine Duplex Formation at Low pH Facilitates DNA Conjugation onto Gold Nanoparticles
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DNA-functionalized gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have been extensively used in sensing, drug delivery, and materials science. A key step is to attach DNA to AuNPs, forming a stable and functional conjugate. Although the traditional salt-aging method takes a full day or longer, a recent low-pH method allows DNA conjugation in a few minutes. The effect of low pH was attributed to the protonation of adenine (A) and cytosine (C), resulting in an overall lower negative charge density on DNA. In this work, the effect of DNA conformation at low pH is studied. Using circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy, the parallel poly-A duplex (A-motif) is detected when a poly-A segment is linked to a random DNA, a design typically used for DNA conjugation. A DNA staining dye, thiazole orange, is identified for detecting such A-motifs. The A-motif structure is ideal for DNA conjugation because it exposes the thiol group to directly react with the gold surface while minimizing nonspecific DNA base adsorption. For nonthiolated DNA, the optimal procedure is to incubate DNA and AuNPs followed by lowering the pH. The i-motif formed by poly-C DNA at low pH is less favorable to the conjugation reaction because of its unique way of folding. The stability of poly-A and poly-G DNA at low pH is examined. An excellent stability of poly-A DNA is confirmed, but poly-G has lower stability. This study provides new fundamental insights into a practically useful technique of conjugating DNA to AuNPs.
Cite this work
Zhicheng Huang, Biwu Liu, Juewen Liu (2016). Parallel Polyadenine Duplex Formation at Low pH Facilitates DNA Conjugation onto Gold Nanoparticles. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/11808